Vocational Education and Training gets the attention it deserves

Australia’s largest and most representative business network, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has warmly welcomed the vocational education and training (VET) announcements made by the Prime Minister, at the Australian Chamber Annual Dinner last night.

The Australian Chamber has been lobbying on the three issues which the Prime Minister addressed:

  • The need to address the decline in the number of adult apprentices.
  • Ensuring that all of the money collected by the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) migration levy is spent on VET.
  • Review of the VET system overall.

“The business community has been deeply concerned at the decline in the number of apprentices and trainees,” Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said.

“Money paid by employers through the SAF migration levy, which was allocated to apprenticeships through partnership agreements with all State and Territory governments, has only just started to flow from the federal government to projects in the states and territories.

“Two states, being Victoria and Queensland did not sign up to the apprenticeship initiative, which left money potentially unspent.

“Business of all sizes were pleased to hear the PM commit to spending the money raised by the levy on vocational training and apprentices. We’ve been having detailed discussions with government, and are keen to ensure that the funds are used wisely.”

“We’re pleased too that employers taking on 21 to 25-year-old apprentices will be eligible for the adult apprentice incentive, which was previously only available for the over-25’s,” Mr Pearson said.

“Employers have been worried at the drop off in adult apprentices in this age bracket.

“The business case for recruiting adult apprentices was hit by a double whammy five to six years ago. First, wage subsidies were removed by the then Labor Government, then adult apprentice wages were increased dramatically by the Fair Work Commission. It is good news to see the first additional investment in apprenticeship incentives for many years.”

“The PM’s third commitment last night was for an independent review of VET and this will have the strongest longer-term consequences for skills development.

“As our SWOT analysis on VET released this time last year showed, VET is at a tipping point. There are considerable strengths in the system, but we need to address the many weaknesses. We have also called for the development of a shared vision for VET, so all governments and stakeholders can get on board.

“We look forward to working with our 80 member organisations, across the country and in every industry sector, to ensure that the employer’s voice is heard with recommendations for both short and long-term action.

“VET is a vital part of our economy and now is the time for the Government to take action to equip Australians for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

/Public Release. View in full here.